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May 29, 2006

Dear Doctor, Could you tell me why HIV is retrovirus? Are there any virus that are retrovirus? What feature is retrovirus?


Response from Dr. Young

Vatana- Thank you for your post.

Retroviruses like HIV all share a common natural history that defines this family of viruses. These viruses carry a chromosome composed of the genetic material RNA; this RNA must then be converted to a DNA version prior to completion of the life cycle. This conversion of RNA to DNA is distinct and was first thought to be "retro" to the normal life cycle of all living things, where chromosomes were DNA.

There are multiple members of the retrovirus family- most infect animal species other than humans (including monkeys and birds).


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